THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on Dutch barring Turkish foreign minister (all times local):
The Turkish foreign ministry says that it doesn’t want to see the Dutch ambassador, who is out of the country, to return to his post because of the increasingly divisive dispute with the Netherlands.
The Netherlands has forced the Turkish foreign minister to stay out of the Netherlands and thus banned him from speaking about next month’s referendum to expand the powers of the Turkish president.
The Turkish foreign ministry statement says that “we have expressed to our Dutch counterparts that this grave decision against Turkey and the Turkish society in the Netherlands would lead to serious consequences in our diplomatic, political, economic and our other relations.”
About 100 pro-Turkish demonstrators have gathered outside the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam at dusk with flags in a peaceful protest following the acrimonious words between both governments. The crowd is standing near the consulate’s entrance, with Rotterdam police putting up railings to keep anyone from getting too close.
The protest came after the Dutch government barred the Turkish foreign minister from landing in the Netherlands to address a rally in support of a Turkish referendum to extend the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
As the crowd grew, so did the Dutch security force outside the consulate and at one point, a chopper came hovering overhead.
Turkey’s foreign minister says that the Dutch decision to deny his plane landing permission for him to enter the Netherlands “is a scandal in every way and cannot be accepted.”
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was due to visit Rotterdam on Saturday to campaign for a referendum next month on constitutional reforms in Turkey. The Dutch government says that it withdrew the permission because of “risks to public order and security.”
Cavusoglu, speaking at Istanbul’s airport, said that the Dutch are trying to prevent Turkish officials from meeting voters in Europe.
He said: “So they cancelled it due to security concerns, what, so is the minister a terrorist?”
The minister added: “We will give them the response they deserve.”
He also said that “we have received many supportive messages from the Netherlands, saying they don’t agree with their government’s racist, fascist policies.”
Around 100 people have marched in Istanbul to protest Netherlands’ decision to bar Turkey’s foreign minister from campaigning.
The demonstrators have laid a black wreath in front of the Dutch Consulate amid a heavy police presence.
The pro-government group said in a statement, “Today we see the Dutch government making decisions that hurt the Turkish nation.”
Emphasizing freedom of assembly and expression, the group said, “Netherlands has made big mistakes towards Turkey’s ministers in terms of democratic rights and freedoms.”
The group chanted “God is Great” and other slogans before dispersing.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim criticized Netherlands’ decision, calling on Europe to cease meddling in Turkey’s affairs.
Speaking at a rally in western Turkey, Yildirim said: “They are banning our ministers and lawmakers who were going there to meet our citizens living abroad, they are creating obstacles.”
The prime minister added: “Hey Europe, please don’t meddle in Turkey’s internal affairs and politics and don’t take a side.”
The Turkish government accuses Germany and Netherlands of preventing campaigns in order to influence a “no” vote in the referendum.
The organizers of the planned rally in Rotterdam with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu appealed for calm after the Dutch government barred him from coming to campaign for next month’s referendum in Turkey.
The organizers said: “We are asking all our citizens to stay home, calm and subdued.”
The organizers said that “the decision is undemocratic and counter to the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.” Since the rally was called off, they said Turkish-Dutch citizens who have a right to vote in the referendum “would give a fitting answer” in the vote, which the Dutch government sees as a step backward in the democratic process in Turkey.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called a Turkish allegation that the Dutch acted like “fascists” by banning the foreign minister from entering the Netherlands to campaign “a crazy remark.”
“I understand they are angry but this is of course way out of line,” Rutte said in the southern Netherlands during a campaign rally for next Wednesday’s Dutch elections.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Dutch “do not know politics or international diplomacy” and added, “these Nazi remnants, they are fascists.”
Rutte said it was not right “for Turkish ministers to campaign in the Netherlands among Dutch people —with potentially a Turkish passport, yes — but first of all Dutch people.”
Despite the angry words, Rutte said it was important to keep good relations with Turkey.
“We will do everything to keep the relations with Turkey as good as possible, as strong as possible,” Rutte said. The Netherlands and Turkey are NATO allies and, through the European Union, it also has a major agreement with Ankara on migration flows.
Turkey’s EU Minister Omer Celik has tweeted that the decision to block a visit by the Turkish foreign minister “will go down in history as a dark spot on the Netherlands’ democracy and diplomacy.”
Celik said: “The Netherlands’ decision to cancel the flight permit of our foreign minister is not befitting of friendship. This decision does not suit our alliance and our friendship that has spanned centuries. If racist Geert Wilders were in power in the Netherlands, he’d make such a decision.”
Kemal Kilicdaroglu the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party criticized the Dutch decision and said, “This is not correct.”
He added: “Those who defend democracy would not do such things. You’ll call yourself a democrat and then not permit the flight of a minister of the Turkish Republic?”
The Dutch government on Saturday withdrew landing permission for the Turkish foreign minister’s aircraft, drawing a furious reaction the Turkish president and escalating a diplomatic dispute between the two NATO allies over campaigning for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reform.
The Dutch government said in a statement it had withdrawn the permission because of “risks to public order and security” caused by the proposed visit of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Rotterdam.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised retaliation against Dutch diplomatic flights.
“You can stop our foreign minister’s plane all you want, let’s see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on,” Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul.